The retirement of production of 55nm GPUs created a hole in the market where neither AMD nor NVIDIA could really compete well. NVIDIA could never get a massive GPU down to $200, while AMD’s smaller Cypress GPU is profitable enough at that point, but their product lineup dictates that it needs to be a heavily cut-down version of that GPU which doesn’t always work out if you have to cut-down too much of the wrong thing. The Radeon 5830 was a hard sell when launched at $239, but at $200 it’s enjoyed a niche that comes to an end today.

By launching a more market-appropriate GPU for the $200-$250 market, NVIDIA has come in with a GPU that doesn’t need to be heavily cut-down to fit in to the market. At $200 the GeForce GTX 460 768MB is clearly the card to get, offering better performance than the Radeon 5830 with fantastic cooling and a reasonable power draw. AMD has little choice but to bring down 5830 prices further – besides Eyefinity it has nothing to separate itself from the otherwise superior GTX 460.

However NVIDIA also has the 1GB version of the GTX 460, with more RAM, more L2 cache, and more ROPs for $30 (15%) more. The 1GB GTX 460 isn’t 15% faster, but at the same time it’s difficult to ignore it. We already have games such as Crysis and Stalker that benefit from the additional capacity of the GTX 460, and this is the future of gaming. For as fantastic of a card as the 768MB GTX 460 is, it has one potential pitfall: it’s 768MB. It’s not a huge problem today, and NVIDIA will tell you it’s not a huge problem tomorrow either, but here we must disagree.

To purchase a $200 card with only 768MB of RAM today is shortsighted; it’s less RAM than last year’s $200 GTX 275 and Radeon 4890 cards had, and it’s going to come up short in tomorrow’s games. The difference is 256MB, but we’re willing to bet between that 256MB of RAM and the additional L2 cache and ROPs that the 1GB advantage will only grow from here. We would rather spend another $30 now for better performance in many of today’s games, knowing that we also will have a better shot at playing tomorrow’s games. NVIDIA’s marketing arm would seem to secretly agree – most of the 1GB cards will be coming with a pack-in game, while the 768MB cards will not. If nothing else we can’t accuse NVIDIA of giving too little for the extra $30.

I think the only way to come across from this launch at all disappointed is when looking at the overall performance levels of the card. The GTX 460 does not completely subdue last year’s $200 cards, and this is part of a larger pattern. DX11 functionality requires additional die space over DX10 functionality, so most of the additional transistors afforded by the transition to 40nm fabrication has been spent on that functionality rather than on improving performance. As a result this year’s $200 cards aren’t a great deal faster than last year’s cards; this isn’t the high-end market where GPU dies (and prices) had room to grow. For everything but the high-end, this year is a feature year and not a performance year.

Meanwhile it’s here that we bid farewell to the GTX 465. It was an underperforming card from the start, and the GTX 460 can meet it or beat it on most games. It has a respectable advantage in compute performance, but this is strongly application-dependent and goes hand-in-hand with the card's higher power draw. At this point we see little reason to purchase it over a cooler, quieter, and cheaper 1GB GTX 460.

Elsewhere, it will be interesting to see how (if at all) AMD respond to the launch of the GTX 460. They still have the upper-hand at performance-per-watt, and with just how similar the GTX 460 and the Radeon 5850 are in terms of die size and power consumption there’s clearly some flexibility on their part to change things. The Radeon 5830 must come down in price or go away entirely, it’s what happens to the 5850 that’s the question. We’ve seen the GTX 460 lock horns with the 5850, and while the 5850 is undoubtedly the faster gaming card the $300 price point no longer makes as much sense as it once did with a $230 1GB GTX 460 below it. AMD either needs a 5840, or a price drop on the 5850 to bring its price more in line with its performance.

At the end of the day NVIDIA has created a very powerful card for a market that has been overlooked for most of this year, and right now they’re setup to benefit from it. The GTX 460 is well priced, well performing, and cool running - 3 qualities we haven’t been able to attribute all at once to an NVIDIA card in quite some time. With launches and pricing like the GTX 460, the competitive landscape that we enjoyed through 2008 and 2009 is finally taking shape once more, and we couldn’t be happier.



View All Comments

  • san1s - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    I hope this is the card that finally brings price drops, they have been stagnant for far too long. Reply
  • JGabriel - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    It should. The 768MB version seems to perform about 5% better than the 5830, and the 1GB version comes to ~90% of the 5850.

    Just on a performance per dollar basis, that means ATI should drop the 5830 to $189 max, with somewhere in the $170-$180 range being more reasonable, and the 5850 needs to drop down to about $249. Basically, we should be looking at 10%-20% price cuts for the 5670, 5750, 5770, 5830, and 5850.

    It should force the GTX 470 under $300, too.

  • medi01 - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    Best way to drop prices would be to ramp up production. Now, if what I've heard is true (fab treats nVidia as a preferred customer, unlike AMD) we will get yet another round of unfair competition, which in the end will hurt us, customers. :(

    Is it me, or articles on this side seem quite a bit to be more positive on what nVidia does, than what would feel neutral? Marketing hints like "it’s not a simple reduced version of GF100 like what AMD did" all over... :(
  • jonup - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    It is you! Only need to go to the GTX465 review to disptove your point. Reply
  • teohhanhui - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    Giving credit where it is due? Reply
  • nafhan - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    Ryan said that because the GF104 isn't a simple reduced version of GF100. Did you notice the part of the article where they talked about superscalar processing? That's not only a marketing bullet point, it's a pretty big change from an architecture point of view, too! Reply
  • medi01 - Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - link

    And this detail brings what particular benefit to the user? In particular, contrasting it with competitors (otherwise superior, cooler and faster) solution? Someone makes something wrong, then he has to rework it (the competitor, that did it right from the beginning, doesn't) and this somehow makes he deserve "some credit"? Reply
  • Ben90 - Monday, July 12, 2010 - link

    About that "marketing" comment about not a shrink of GF100, its completely true and how does that make this site pro-NVIDIA?

    You should check out the next article; very first paragraph:

    "In 2007 we reviewed NVIDIA’s GeForce 8800 GT. At the time we didn’t know it would be the last NVIDIA GPU we would outright recommend at launch."
  • medi01 - Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - link

    It's completely true, yet it is confusing at best. Piece of silicon is "praised" for something, that has no practical value to the consumer.

    And please, don't compare nVidia article to nVidia article, compare it to AMD:

    When 5830 was reviewed, and mind you, it's a nice card that runs cooler, has eyefinity, but is a tad slower than older 49xx, this fact was PUT INTO TITLE, mind you. It was mentioned in the very NAME of the article, that new 200$ card is a tad slower than older ones. (basically the only "bad thing" that one could say about the card)

    In case of 465 it's barely mentioned "oh, it's slower than older 200$ cards".

  • Lonyo - Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - link

    Anandtech is a tech site that often goes more into the under the hood bits.
    On some sites you will see them calculating performance per currency numbers, or performance per watt.
    On Anandtech you will have them discussing things like changes to the architecture, the way the threading works etc.
    That's not a new thing, and it's not a biased thing, that's just what they do here at AT in their reviews. It just so happens that the GTX460 has some of those under the hood changes compared to the earlier cards based on the same architecture, so they are discussed in the article.
    If you don't care too much about that sort of thing, you can just skip to the benchmarks. If you are interested in it, then it's a nice addition.

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